Clinics are on the mend

2014-03-02 14:00

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The department of health was shocked by the state of the country’s facilities, so it’s testing a new prototype.

South Africa’s clinics scored so poorly in a government audit that the health department developed a prototype of the “ideal clinic” and is testing it in several provinces.

In the National Health Care Facilities Baseline Audit, conducted by the department across clinics and hospitals in 2011, the country’s clinics scored an overall average of less than 50% in six key areas.

The full audit reveals a shocking picture of the 3?313 facilities that were scrutinised.

Of the clinics audited, just three from Gauteng – Eldoraigne Satellite Clinic, Pierre Van Ryneveld Satellite Clinic and East Lynne Clinic – fully complied with the six national core standards compared with one hospital out of 394.

The standards under review were cleanliness, staff attitude, drug stocks, infection control, patient and staff safety, and waiting times.

Forty-two clinics had an overall score of less than 20% and the lowest overall score for hospitals was 31%.

Twenty clinics scored zero for cleanliness, compared with two hospitals.

Thirty clinics scored 0% for waiting times and one hospital received that mark.

Ethandakukhanya Clinic in Mpumalanga had the lowest overall score of 11%.

And in the Eastern Cape, Gompo A Ndende, Zanempilo and Booysens Park clinics scored 14% each.

There have been some improvements since the audit. Simunye Clinic in Bekkersdal was at the bottom in Gauteng, scoring a mere 17% in the six areas.

The facility scored 0% for cleanliness, 0% for staff attitude, 14% for infection prevention and control, 16% for availability of medicine, 20% for waiting times and 24% for patient safety.

But on a visit to the clinic this week, City Press found a spotlessly clean facility staffed by smiling, friendly people.

City Press found similar improvements at several Eastern Cape clinics that performed badly in the audit.

Jeanette Hunter, the national health department’s deputy director-general, said: “We knew that clinics were historically disadvantaged because for many years

the government invested more in hospitals, but we were hoping that the average score [for clinics] would be 70% instead of less than 50%.”

She said the department had seen some improvements, but it may take some time for the public to notice this.

“As bad as this was for us, some good news did come out of it.

“Soon after the audit was finalised, the department developed a concept known as the ideal clinic prototype, which will guide us on what a clinic in South Africa should look like and how it should function,” said Hunter.

The concept consists of an ambitious 185 elements.

Among these are administrative guidelines, the clinical rules and protocols staff should follow, the services a clinic should offer and infrastructure requirements.

At an ideal clinic, Hunter said, a patient could expect a friendly reception from staff and to find the facility clean with proper sanitation.

Queues will be expected to move swiftly, guided by marshals.

The department of health is in the process of conducting studies in nine clinics in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and the Free State to assess whether the ideal-clinic concept is feasible and how long it may take the department to implement it.

Clinics: zeroes, not heroes

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